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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > November 2019 > Free yourself from the past

Free yourself from the past

Anita Chaudhuri explores the concept of leaving behind old beliefs and grievances and choosing a new path, without the burden of what’s gone before on your shoulders

When you hear the word forgiveness, what is the first image that pops into your head? For me, it is a mother who has lost a child and is being interviewed on the news. The circumstances of her tragedy will vary – it may have been a terrorist attack, or that her child was a victim of the UK’s knife-crime epidemic – but the content is the same. The mother, as mothers often do under such circumstances, will speak about her need to forgive the perpetrators in order to foster greater compassion and understanding in the world.

I’m always humbled by these strong, brave-hearted women who have the courage to release their anger and resentment in times of great suffering. Humbled but also, if I’m honest, a bit ashamed. If they can make such a leap, why am I still harbouring a grudge against someone I worked for 22 years ago? The person in question behaved in a less-than-kind way towards me and nearly cost me my job. The only reason they didn’t was that I had already decided to resign. My life has moved on since then, obviously – so why do I still find myself thinking about that person, gnawing on an old bone to try and extract some juice from it?

And that’s not the only long-term grudge I’ve been holding onto for dear life. There’s the girl who lived across the street who used to call me names and excluded me from crucial Barbie beauty pageants in her back garden. To be fair, my mother wouldn’t allow us to own Barbies on the grounds of feminism and aesthetics, so I couldn’t have gone anyway – but I think of that girl often, and not in a kind way. It’s a similar story with a neighbour I fell out with for reasons now lost in the mists of time.

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